Rob Newman

A little bit of politics
On the eve of the local elections, Julian Hall takes a look at political comedy

Legend has it that when a Nazi officer confronted Picasso with a print of Guernica and asked him: ‘Did you do this?’, Picasso replied: ‘No, you did.’
Whether true or not the exchange defines political satire: the ability to liberate a truth while liberating a laugh. The harsher the conditions the better the jokes, as the tide of jokes about Eastern Europe under Communist rule testified: A guy goes into a butcher’s and asks for pork, ‘nie ma’ [there isn’t any]; for beef, ‘nie ma’; for lamb, ‘nie ma’; for veal, ‘nie ma’; for chicken, ‘nie ma’. Finally, he leaves, defeated. ‘He was kind of crazy, wasn’t he?’ says the butcher’s assistant. ‘Yeah,’ says the butcher, ‘but what a memory!’

For the alternative comedy movement the Thatcher era in Britain proved equally fertile ground for rages against oppression as they saw it. The political landscape and satirical opportunities have changed considerably since the Eighties and inevitably a new generation of political comedians has emerged, most less earnest than their ancestors but equally keen to prick the consciences of their audiences and to prove it’s not all about chavs, Star Wars and dope-smoking.

To read the rest of the article go to: http://www.chortle.co.uk/features/2008/04/30/6711/a_little_bit_of_politics